Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Redefinition of Liberal Act of 1933 and the Descent of Obama

A couple of posts originally undertaken two years ago that I've dug up and reexhumined in light of my current burial in the neo-classical economics of Mises and Hayek. The posts have been condensed, revised, extended, and embalmed.

The understanding that the left embodies the antithesis of liberalism is not new. For example, in the forward to Human Action (1949), Mises writes that "I employ the term 'liberal' in the sense attached to it everywhere in the nineteenth century and still today in the countries of continental Europe. This usage is imperative because there is simply no other term available to signify the great political and intellectual movement that substituted free enterprise and the market economy for the pre-capitalistic methods of production; constitutional representative government for the absolutism of kings or oligarchies; and freedom of all individuals for slavery, serfdom, and other forms of bondage."

Not only did the left steal this beautiful word, "liberal," but then went on to spoil it due to their misguided and destructive policies. So now they use another word, "progressive," but the problem is the same, since it is probably fair to say that nothing in the world has accounted for so much human progress as the implementation of classical liberal policies -- most recently in China and India, where nearly a billion people have been lifted from true poverty (not the American kind) since 1990. Prior to that, communist China was obviously a basket case, but so too was India, which was a socialist country from its inception until finally abandoning that dysfunctional approach after the end of the Cold War.

At any given point in our history, progress would have been arrested or slowed if we had adopted the illiberal collectivist policies of the left. As Mises writes, "None of the great modern inventions would have been put to use if the mentality of the pre-capitalistic era had not been thoroughly demolished by the economists. What is commonly called the 'industrial revolution' was an offspring of the ideological revolution brought about by the doctrines of the economists. The economists exploded the old tenets" that had held development in check and were deeply anti-progressive.

But things are no different today. "What is wrong with our age is precisely the widespread ignorance of the role which these policies of economic freedom played in the technological evolution of the last two hundred years." Again, the only way the mystagogic left could avoid this economic reality was to lurch into the pervasive irrationalism, emotionalism, authoritarianism, and anti-intellectualism we see today. Mises called this revolt against reason and liberty "polylogism," whereas now we call it the monocult of multiculturalism or the dreary uniformity of "diversity."

The Forgotten Man is one of the best books ever written on the Great Depression. It's written by a mainstream journalist in a very evenhanded and understated way, to such an extent that a narrow-minded leftist might even be lulled into reading it, only to realize too late that their whole worldview has vaporized. A good alternate title would have been, Everything You Think You Know is Wrong, Moonbat!

It's amazing to me that the angry left was so hysterical about President Bush using his constitutionally valid war powers in a time of war (as is Obama), when FDR explicitly usurped those powers in peace time, greatly expanding the powers of the executive and the size and intrusiveness of the federal government. And once the left gains power -- which necessarily involves diminishing your freedom -- they never give it back. Rather, we must take it back.

Of course the feces have changed, but 75 years later we're still having to deal with the same crappy ideas and policies put into place by FDR and his "brain trust." Naturally, not all of the ideas were bad, but that is purely accidental, since no one gave a thought to the long term consequences of FDR's radical experimentation with the economy.

Speaking of which, this was also the first time professional "intellectuals" played a dominant role in a president's policy making, to the detriment of us all. In science or business, bad ideas are quickly eliminated, but in government and academia, the beloved abstraction of some tenured pinhead can live on forever -- for example, price supports for farmers, i.e., paying them to grow fewer crops in order to keep prices artificially high, or giviing grants to self-styled artists to produce pro-statist propaganda. Those are just two of hundreds of leftist ideas that seem impossible to eradicate. Or even discuss.

Instead of dealing in reality, the left habitually deals in myth and image, and there is no bigger myth than the idea that FDR rescued the economy from the Great Depression. To the contrary, it is now well understood by mainstream economists that his economic acumen was essentially nil, and that he aggravated the Depression at every turn, causing it to last many years longer than it otherwise would have.

Five years after FDR took office, we were in the midst of a "depression within a depression," with unemployment at 17.4%. The Dow didn't return to pre-Depression levels until the mid-1950s. "Washington had already made thousands of efforts to help the economy," writes Shlaes, "yet those efforts had not brought prosperity."

I remember learning in school that the Wall Street crash of 1929 was central to the length and depth of the Depression, but this isn't true at all, and simply plays into leftist mythology. I remember even learning about it in the moralizing terms with which the left approves -- that the crash was caused by "greed," i.e., buying stocks on margin, and speculating on the market with no understanding of the underlying economic fundamentals. That part is true enough, just as it was true with the tech bubble of the 1990s and the real estate bubble of 2008. And when this happens, economic reality returns in the form of a market "correction."

But the correction was not the disaster it is made out to be. Much worse was what came after, in the government's repeated attempts to cure the problems created by the economy's own auto-regulation. In hindsight, it's perhaps easy to unfairly apportion too much blame to FDR for the disastrous economic policies he put into place, since we know so much more about economics today than anyone did back then, just as it's hard to blame medical doctors in the 1930s for knowing so much less about medicine than we do today.

True, there's usually no need to assign malevolent motives for something that is more easily explained by stupidity or ignorance. But while FDR displayed plenty of economic ignorance, I was actually surprised at how much sheer malevolence he engaged in as well -- or at best, transparent power politics. So much of what he did was about power and political advantage, which is one of the reasons his policies were so incoherent and at times contradictory. Mainly, he wanted to create the perception that he was doing something, which is an advantage that leftists have had ever since FDR, since doing nothing is always preferable to doing the wrong something, but it's a much tougher sell. It's one of the main reasons it's difficult for a real conservative to get elected, since a gargantuan state capable of bestowing favors creates an intrinsically corrupt system of incentives.

At the time FDR took office, the federal government was so small -- smaller than many state and local goverments -- that it couldn't do what it does today, which is to essentially bribe this or that constituency in order to maintain and expand its power. But in his second inaugural address, Roosevelt said that he was seeking "unimagined power" -- ironically, the kind of real power that the paranoid left fantasized President Bush was seeking! The word "fascist" is routinely thrown out by the left, but one thing a fascist cannot be is a small-government liberal (which, of course, President Bush was not).

This has been the leftist strategy ever since FDR, and is the reason why the left does not consist of ideas but merely interest groups and emotional appeals. It's difficult for a true conservative to compete in such a climate, since his only promises are his ideas and ideals, including the idea that he will stop giving interest groups free stuff if they vote for him, and the ideal that people should be more self-reliant and not expect government to bail them out.

"Roosevelt systematized interest-group politics more generally to include many constituencies -- labor, senior citizens, farmers, union workers [and, one might add, southern racists]. The president made groups where only individual citizens or isolated cranks had stood before, ministered to those groups, and was rewarded for it with votes." Roosevelt "believed in a future of scarcity.... Growth would not provide for the poor; only redistribution could." It is no coincidence that 1936 was the first peace-time year that federal spending surpassed that of local governments. That's a lot of bribes to pay out. The recent Porkulus monstrosity proves that nothing's changed.

Roosevelt also vilified the wealthy and blamed the Depression on them, using the type of demagogic language one might hear from moveon.org or Air America. "The Depression, FDR said, was the result of 'lack of honor of men in high places' and 'crooks.' More generally he assigned blame to a moral fault: national greed." Jimmy Carter, anyone?

Shlaes explains that the "annihilating event" that kept the depression going was deflation, and that FDR repeatedly acted in such a way as to make the deflation worse -- by contracting the money supply, by raising taxes, and by engaging in an economic jihad against those with capital to invest in the economy. Plus, by acting in such an arbitrary, dictatorial, and essentially lawless manner, investment capital naturally flowed away from the economy, since investors always want predictability. Why invest today if you have no idea what new radical experiment FDR is going to try tomorrow, say, raising corporate taxes to 90%? Many investors hoped to simply "wait out" Roosevelt until a more favorable business climate existed.

Roosevelt fundamentally distrusted the stock market and underestimated the ability of the economy to right itself, in the manner of every leftist since: he "cared little for constitutional niceties and believed they blocked progress. His remedies were on a greater scale and often inspired by socialist or fascist models abroad." He believed that recovery "could be achieved only through a large, military-style effort." Many factors contributed to the Depression, but "the deepest problem was the intervention, the lack of faith in the marketplace." Remarkably, his favorable view of the Soviet Union was validated "nearly daily in the New York Times by the paper's Walter Duranty." The more things change...

Massive new institutions such as the National Recovery Administration "frightened away capital, and they discouraged employers from hiring workers." The laws he signed were so broad that no one knew how he would interpret them. Ironically, for someone who said "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," his "commitment to experimentation itself created fear" -- "not merely the new policies that were implemented but also the threat of additional, unknown, policies. Fear froze the economy..."

Again, one of Roosevelt's most profound changes had to do with the redefinition of liberalism: "Before the 1930s, the word 'liberal' stood for individual; afterward, the phrase increasingly stood for groups."

Leftism will always be with us, because it is not so much an ideology as a sort of pathological seed planted in the heart of man. In my opinion, it truly is a genetic condition, as it is a reflection of the primitive economic system that prevailed in the archaic environment in which man's genome was selected. That primitive zero-sum worldview is based upon group solidarity, scarcity, stasis, and envy, whereas the non-genetic ideals of classical liberalism are based upon enlightened self-interest, economic progress, unlimited wealth, and ignoring the primitive envy of our most childish citizens, since it can never be appeased anyway.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Unexamined Post is Not Worth Writing

Well friends, it just done got too late to come up with a whole new post, so I'm republishing this one, which is sort of a continuation of the themes brought out in the last two.

I don't know about you, but I really don't mind the stale bobservations, because I'm always surprised at what's in 'em. It's as if it's my first opportunity to actually read them, i.e., to view them as an object external to me. It's like what that clever feller said about learnin': the only new thing is the history you don't know.

I've never really thunk on it before, but I can't really "see" 'em when they're a-comin' out my melon. I suppose it's analogous to the difference between dreaming and then interpreting the dream. If you don't interpret it -- or at least ponder over it -- or dwell in it for a spell -- it's just "gone," as if it never happened. I guess you might say the unexamined post ain't worth a-writin'....

A link was wanting between two craving parts of Nature and he was hurled into being as the bridge over that yawning need. --Emerson

Placed on the borders of Time and Eternity, he holds himself somehow erect at the horizon of nature.... Spiritual perfection is his true nature. --Giordano Bruno

Each man ought to say to himself, "I was the creator, may I become again what I was." --Upanishads

Due to the Creator's involution, the creation is truly a bridge to nowhere, that is, in its descending mode into relativity. However, for that very reason, it is also a meandering bridge to.... one cannot say precisely where, because that implies some sort of horizontal destination. Rather, the creation is an ascending bridge from nowhere to nothing, nothing being understood as the apophatic God beyond our comprehension, or the light so blinding that it looks like darkness.

Which reminds me. Future Leader loves to play a game in which we "hide from Mommy" while she's out walking the dog. When she returns, she pretends to not be able to find us, which has the effect of ratcheting up the tension in Future Leader's mind as in a horror movie. Anyway, we were hiding in the dark under the blankets, and he shrieked, "I can't see my eyes!"

So if you are one of those scientistic Darwinian fundamentalists living in metaphysical darkness, the first thing to locate is your eyes. No, not the evolved eyes, but the uncreated eye of spirit that knows truth and not opinion, i.e., your vision. Or, as Schopenhauer observed, "The experimental sciences, when one occupies oneself with them for their own sake, studying them without any philosophical aim, are like a face without eyes. They then represent one of those occupations suitable to middling capacities devoid of the supreme gifts which would only be obstacles to their minute researches."

It's a matter of soul vs. spirit, or psyche vs. pneuma. When our childish troll hides beneath his metaphysical blanket and cries, "I can't see my third eye!," he's obviously referring to the latter: "With his soul (psyche) man engages in scientific or philosophical inquiry, analyzing the data of his sense-experience by means of discursive reason" (Ware). But if this were the extent of man's intellectual capacities, we would be no different from any other tenured beast wallowing around in his filthy pen of absolute relativism and amoral moralism.

Rather, "With his spirit (pneuma), which is sometimes termed nous or spiritual intellect, he understands eternal truth about God, or about the logoi or inner essences of created things, not through deductive reasoning, but by direct spiritual apprehension or spiritual perception." And it would be a shame if man were to look at scripture, of all things, with the eyes of the psyche instead of pneuma, for then he is fundamentally no different than the Darwinist who chucks his nous and looks at the creation with his beady lizard eyes, seeing only surfaces.

Again, let others argue over whether natural selection could have resulted in something as fantastically complex as the eye. But argue with no one who believes it could have resulted in something as fantastically simple as a transcendental eye that has the ability to see the celestial light that radiates through, and shimmers upon, the surface of being.

As JB would say, take us to the bridge: "All creatures are balanced upon the creative word of God, as if upon a bridge of diamond; above them is the abyss of divine infinitude, below them that of their own nothingness" (Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow, quoted in Ware).

What does that wise crack remind me of, aside from the soul power and cosmic funkmanship of James Brown? Oh yes, p. 89: Wandering along the precipice of non-being, one side down and back into dark death and material dissolution, the other side up and beyond, into more subtle regions of Mind and Spirit:

Perhaps the worst thing about a modern education is that it teaches only about surfaces, never the Depths, as if the latter do not exist and are not the soul's proper environment. This is because of our unwise founders, who created a constitution which mandates a "wall of separation" between surface and depth, and therefore outlaws conservatism.

Rather, the founders clearly intended for secular leftism to be our state religion, and explicitly wished to prevent human beings from discovering both their spiritual essence and the nonlocal source of their liberty, at least in any publicly funded school. The reason they did this is because a spiritually rootless nation of material automatons is much easier to control with dogma, slogans, bumper stickers, and promises of material well-being without effort. This follows from our Declaration of Dependence, which proclaims that human beings are endowed by the state with various privileges, such as healthcare, free abortions, and the pursuit of pleasure.

Nevertheless, this leftist state religion has a downside. As Ware writes, "Modern man has for the most part lost touch with the truest and highest aspect of himself; and the result of this inward alienation can be seen all too plainly in his restlessness, his lack of identity and his loss of hope." This, I think, is the deeper meaning of Obama's superficiality. He is here to raise the spiritually dead with his inspirational hope-a-dope rhetoric, AKA, the emperor's new empty suit of cliches.

Now, if Man is a bridge, it is in both a spatial and temporal sense. That is, he spans all of the vertical degrees of being; but the higher he ascends, the more encompassing the horizontal view, no different than when you look at the city below from the top of one of them big skyscrapers. I would go so far as to say that if you don't have your head in the clouds, it might very well be up your ass. If you're not scraping the sky, then you're creeping the earth.

Now I am reminded of Joyce, and neither will you, but here goes anyway:

".... If you are abcedminded, to this claybook, what curios of signs in this allaphbed! Can you rede its world?.... The meandertale, aloss and again, of our old Heidenburgh in the days when Head-in-Clouds walked the earth. In the ignorance that implies impression that knits knowledge that finds the nameform that whets the wits that convey contacts that sweeten sensation that drives desire that adheres to attachment that dogs death that bitches birth that entails the ensuance of existentiality...."

In fact, immediately after that passage is a quote that I used on the frontispiece of my doctoral dissertation, which you might say is "son of One Cosmos." Or I suppose it would be "father of One Cosmos." Anyway, When a part so ptee does duty for the holos we soon grow to use of an allforabit. In a similar vein, Somedivide and sumthelot but the tally turns round the same balifusion.

In a way, that summarizes the whole Doctrine, does it not? Which is fitting, because so does Man. He is the allforabit, a part so ptee who nevertheless does duty for the holos, no? And materialists try to divide and sumthelot, but that just ends in a fractured bog of a blob not a holygraphic blog of a bob. What I mean is, if you don't become spiritually whole again, you'll probably end up an intellectual hooligan.

Here, let's put it in plain English. As Ware writes, "Man stands at the heart of God's creation. Participating as he does in both the noetic and the material realms, he is an image or mirror of the whole creation, imago mundi, a 'little universe' or microcosm. All things have their meeting place in him." Yes, a part so ptee can do duty for the holos, but not without evolving there:

"Being microcosm, man is also mediator. It is his God-given task to reconcile and harmonize the noetic and the material realms, to bring them to unity, to spiritualize the material, and to render manifest all the latent capacities of the created order.... But in 'spiritualizing the body,' man does not thereby dematerialize it: on the contrary, it is the human vocation to manifest the spiritual in and through the material. Christians are in this sense the only true materialists."

Yes, this is indeed One Cosmos Under God. But only to the extent that we real-ize it, one youman beastling at a time.

The world is at once a passing shadow and a final fact....

The present is all that you have; and unless in this present you can find general principles which interpret the present as including a representation of the whole community of existents, you cannot move a step beyond your little patch of immediacy
. --Alfred North Whitehead, Religion in the Making


Afterweird: I was thinking last night about how Sri Aurobindo measured his effect upon students, and it was mainly in their ability to compose "supramental poetry," which we won't get into here. However, I've noticed that I do something similar, in that I like to think that long-time readers begin to notice a new facility with language -- an ability to deploy language to make God present, so to speak. I certainly notice it in your comments. Sort of hard to describe, but if it has begun happening to you, then you know it. For those of you who are bobsequious enough to have the book, this transformation of language is discussed on pp. 107-109.

What comes down must go up:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Surfing the Evolutionary Waves of Cosmic Energy

This is a continuation of yesterday's post. One year later, it has finally been spell-checked and fortified with fresh new unassailable (but not unassholeable -- just watch) truths.

Becoming is the mode of activity of the uncreated God. --Hermes

In the bosom of Time, God-without-beginning becomes what He has never been in all eternity. --Angelus Silesius

We've posted on the subject of the needlessly ambivalent relationship between evolution and Christianity on a number of occasions. Again, it poses no problem for (small o) orthodox Christians, for whom it is mostly a big "whatever." However, a question nevertheless remains, which is to say, how does it all fit together and work out in practice, not just theory? In other words, what is the relationship between the theology and the science?

Many scientists and religious believers (including countless scientific believers) know that there can be no real conflict between religion and science. But this is like saying there can be no conflict between mind and matter. True enough, but we'd still like to know how it all works.

As I mentioned somewhere in my book, I had no interest in using science to try to prove the existence of God, at least after some initial research that settled the issue to my satisfaction. Rather, since I already knew that God existed, I wanted to understand what the universe had to be like, given God's existence. Much more interesting question. This approach only makes sense, because God is obviously not limited or constrained by science, but science is quite obviously constrained by God.

In ether worlds, nothing can happen in the word of science that is inconsistent with the existence of God. To cite one prominent example that comes to us via quantum physics, if this were a Newtonian universe of logical atomism -- i.e., a cosmos of completely disconnected parts -- that ontology would be radically inconsistent with the existence of the immanent God. To put it another way, the infinite sea of quantum potential is a kind of exteriorized mirror image of God's interior.

Yesterday I linked to this article, noting that the Vatican maintains that the theory of evolution is fully compatible with the Bible: "In 1950, Pope Pius XII described evolution as a valid scientific approach to the development of humans, a view that was reiterated by Pope John Paul II in 1996."

The article continues: "Creationism is the belief that God created the world and all life in six days as described in the Bible. The Catholic Church does not read the Genesis account of creation literally, saying it is an allegory for the way God created the world. The Catholic Church teaches 'theistic evolution,' a stand that accepts evolution as a scientific theory and sees no reason why God could not have used a natural evolutionary process in the forming of the human species. It objects to using evolution as the basis for an atheist philosophy that denies God's existence or any divine role in creation. It also objects to using Genesis as a scientific text."

Now, I realize that I have some so-called "fundamentalist" readers who read the Bible literally, and I have no intention of alienating or getting into an argument with them, any more than I will argue with our Darwinian fundamentalist trolls. It goes without saying that the religious fundamentalist is infinitely closer to ultimate truth than the Darwinian fundamentalist, in that at least the religious fundamentalist does not absurdly and beclowningly deny the Absolute. But I think you have to concede that no one reads the Bible literally, unless you really believe that Christ is a door or that Peter is a rock.

Where the metaphysical Darwinist absurdly denies the Absolute, the religious fundamentalist either denies or devalues the relative. This topic is covered in detail in chapter two of Perry's On Awakening & Remembering: To Know is to Be, entitled The Twin Pitfalls of Fanaticism and Relativism, and perhaps we'll get into that later. The point is, what we call "fundamentalism" is a modern and even postmodern deviation from integral truth. In fact, I believe it can be seen as a kind of irrational overreaction to the demonic relativism of postmodernism, into an inverted mirror image of irrational "absolutism." But genuine absolutism always makes room for the relative, since it is the prolongation of the vertical into the horizontal -- which is precisely why religion is such a gas, and why we have so much more fun down here than the pagans.

As Chesterton noted, one reason to become Christian is that it represents a superior philosophy, not just theology. Therefore, there shouldn't be anything in it that doesn't make an appeal to our intellect; or, to put it another way, our intellect (and remember, this refers to the higher mind, not the ego) should be able to find its rest in Christian theology.

And it should accomplish this not by obliterating, escaping, or compartmentalizing the relative, but illuminating it "from above" in an entirely new way. I can only speak for mysoph, in that this is certainly how it was for me. Again, I was coonvicted by my intellect, not by a crisis, or a need to fit in, or by virtue of being born into a certain predigested worldview. Christianity is simply a much deeper and intellectually satisfying philosophy than any form of materialism, including of course metaphysical Darwinism, which unexplains much more than it can ever explain about man as such.

But for the same reason, I am opposed to anything that would make Christianity look like a foolish or inadequate philosophy. I consider that to be a kind of sin against the Holy Spirit. Anyone who has had to overcome a bad case of Jesus Willies will know exactly what I mean. My inability to embrace Christianity earlier in my life was not only a matter of pride, nor only a result of the ubiquitous distortions and intellectual dishonesty of the radical secularists.

Rather, there was a considerable amount of stupidity -- and therefore spiritual darkness -- in the forms of Christianity to which I was exposed, and which would have required an absence of self-respect on my part in order to embrace. And lack of self-respect is not the same as humility. True, one must enter it as a child. But that is again a very different thing from being childish. Humility is merely objectivity toward the self. Thus, one can both over- and underestimate the human station in general and oneself in particular. Always remember that we are in the image of the Creator. That's saying a lot. It has many more implications than you may realize, for it means that a certain kind of rigorously applied introspection can reveal the nature of God (not in himself, of course, but in reflected or analogous way).

Anyway. Let's get down to details. We begin with the axiom that the world is created. But who created it, and of what is it created? It is (note the present tense) created by a conscious being out of conscious energy, which it must be. Now, we can argue over the nature of this conscious energy, but not with a physicist, because they concede up front that they have no earthly idea what it is. They can believe whatever they want, but it will be a matter of faith. The question is whether the faith is warranted or misplaced. And if you are nothing but a Darwinian replicating machine, it's a pretty safe bet that your faith in yourself is wholly unwarranted.

The cosmos is not necessary, but contingent. It did not have to be, and yet it is. Therefore, its existence is a result of freedom, or a free act. Which, by the way, is where all this glorious freedom comes from, in case you didn't know. But for a Christian, it goes a little deeper than that, because freedom itself is neither here nor there. Rather, as Ware points out, while "God created the universe by an act of free will," "Nothing compelled him to create; he chose to do so. The world was not created unintentionally or out of necessity; it is not an automatic emanation or overflowing from God, but the consequence of a divine choice."

But I don't think that is quite accurate. I would tweak the language just a bit, to say that the world may not have been automatic, but it was nevertheless inevitable, given the divine nature. The divine nature being what it is, it could not help but radiate and communicate the Good, the True, and the Beautiful -- just like a beautiful human soul who radiates truth and decency. As above, so below. The point is, the cosmos is completely unnarcissary, just like the Creator. He's a giver.

Therefore, freedom and creativity inevitably bear upon love. As Ware writes, "In so far as such a question admits of an answer..., God's motive in creation is his love. Rather than say he created the universe out of nothing, we should say that he created it out of his own self, which is love.... Creation is an act not so much of his free will as of his free love."

This is something I attempted to make plainly obscure in the opening and closing and reopening pages of the Coonifesto. As Ware writes, "The circle [get it? Circle?] of divine love has not remained closed. God's love is, in a literal sense, 'ecstatic' -- a love that causes God to go out from himself and create things other than himself." This is the famous love that removes the sin and other scars, speaking Allighierically. It is also of course what Petey means on pages 13-14, where the One "falls in love with the productions of time, hurtling higgledy-piggledy into jivass godlings and samskara monsters (Boo!) all the way down." The point is, this free act of divine love is necessarily going to result in both maya and monsters, more on which later. The monsters can't be helped, for there is no one Good but the One. Yes, goddinpottys are inevitable, and in their own perverse way proclaim the existence of God.

Here is another subtle point that I attempted to make clear in the book. The events described in my huge mythunderstanding are not of the past -- which can only be located in the horizontal -- but in the present, or the vertical now, in which the divine energies perpetually flow into Creation (failure to heed this distinction is, I believe, a central fallacy of religious and scientistic fundamentalists, who both deny the ceaseless vertical activity of the atemporal now). Thus, as Ware points out,

"Creation is continual. If we are to be accurate when speaking of creation, we should use not the past tense but the continuous present. We should say, not 'God made the world, and me in it,' but 'God is making the world, and me in it, here and now, at this moment and always.' Creation is not an event in the past, but is a relationship to the present."

Which is why you are called (i.e., it is your summa voc-ation) to live your life with love and creativity, or even "creative love," which is again to be a proper mirror and image of the Creator. Or, to quote Augustine, "Creation precisely affirms a principle of origin, but not necessarily a principle of duration.... God is before the world of duration, yet the word 'before' does not mean a priority of time, but of eternity...."

Again: God's creative activity is in the present, as the roaring torrent of eternity perpetually pours into the little channel of time. This is what Toots Mondello meant when he made the cryptic and easily misunderstood comment that the life of the Raccoon involves "channel surfing." Or at least that's how we interpret it today. In fact, I'm surfing that eternal wave right now, as it channels into cyberspace.

Man was introduced last among existent things, as a natural bond between the extremes of the whole through his own parts, and bringing into unity in his own person those things which by nature are far distinct from each other. Drawing all things out of their former division and bringing them united to God..., he finally reaches the goal of the sublime ascent... --Maximus the Confessor

Surf's Up
Aboard a tidal wave
Come about hard and join
The young and often spring you gave
I heard the word
Wonderful thing
A children's song...
--Brian the Surfer

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Why Darwinists Reject Evolution

In trying to decide what to repost, it's much easier to just grab something at random from one or two years ago. This one is from last September, with many new reflections and refractions added. Irony alert: the title of the post is not ironic but 100% literal.

I'm afraid that some readers -- probably for perfectly understandable reasons -- don't fully understand my point about spiritual evolution. I am not attempting to "Aurobindo-ize" Christianity." Rather, it's just that I see some rather obvious and fascinating parallels. Furthermore, I think a kneejerk anti-evolutionary stance is merely "customary" rather than intrinsic to Christianity. In fact, I believe it can be shown that the idea of a static universe is at the "human margin" of Christian theology, as opposed to evolution, which is at the heart of the divine revelation and intrinsic to a created world.

The concept of evolution is a key that unlocks countless mysteries, whereas the idea of a static universe only puts in place numerous impasses to our reason. And since God addresses himself to human reason, I have a hard time accepting any theology that insists that we must bypass our God-given reason to "understand" the divine memo.

Remember, whenever I use the word "evolution," it is never in the watered-down Darwinian sense of random "natural selection," but in a much grander cosmic sense, of which Darwinism can only be a small subset. Darwinists quite clearly abuse the plain dictionary definition of the term, and whenever someone redefines a word in order to make their theory work, you should be suspicious, for that's not science, only semantics or some other evasion. You can't define something by redefining it out of existence. Science naturally does this for methodological reasons, but then supernaturally conflates method and ontology, which is -- to use the technical term -- "stupid."

For example, my dictionary says that evolution is "a process of change in a certain direction", i.e., "a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state." Being that the essence of spirituality involves changing into a higher and better state, whereas Darwinism merely involves intrinsically meaningless change, it is actually religious believers who accept evolution and Darwinists who don't. For a strict Darwinist, nothing can be intrinsically "better" or "higher" on pain of undermining the whole theory. Organisms can only be relatively better adapted to their environment and therefore reproduce more successfully.

It doesn't take a genius to notice that Darwinism violates this straightforward definition of evolution, since it cannot speak of directionality, lower and higher, or better and worse, being that these categories can only be located on a vertical plane that transcends the flatland Darwinism of random mutation.

Even if a Darwinist argues that his theory is superior to yours, he has taken himself out of Darwinism, and is making an appeal to criteria that quite obviously transcend Darwinism. Why do you think that contemptuous Darwinists always want to prove that they are so much smarter than you are, hmm? Suffice it to say that the answer will not be found in Darwinism but psychoanalysis.

Ironically, you could even say that Darwinists specifically do not believe in evolution, being that they reject its very possibility (i.e., directional change into an intrinsically higher state). Rather, they believe in change, a very different thing. In this regard, they are very much like progressives, who also believe in change, but not genuine progress, since their metaphysic abolishes any absolute standard by which real progress can be measured. Indeed, progressives must generally abolish permanent truths in order to facilitate the changes they seek.

Again, one of our central ideas is that, specifically because this is a creation, it must also evolve and burst forth with creative novelty. The cosmos is permeated with meaning, and meaning has no meaning outside teleology, or final causes. In other words, the meaning is the cause.

Or, put it this way: if this weren't a creation, then we would have no trouble explaining why the cosmos has no creativity, novelty, or progressive development. We certainly wouldn't have any difficulty explaining the absence of the human intellect. But this is not a single level creation. Rather, it contains implicit degrees of being that serially unfold within time. This is a living cosmos; or let us say that it is infused with the life principle of "dynamic interior wholeness," which is why biology is even possible. Such a principle could never occur in a cosmos where it wasn't already implicitly present.

And it is also composed of Truth, which is why truth may call out to truth in the human subject. Only like may know like. We can know of no cosmos other than a cosmos capable of self-revelation and self-knowledge. But a cosmos capable of self-knowledge is an astonishing thing to contemplate. Here again, there is no Darwinist who doesn't suffer from a severely constrained imagination, thereby foreclosing the very space of vertical recollection.

In an "evolutionary creation" (which is again a redundancy), time will not be reducible to mere physical duration. Rather, it is the essence of creative transformation, which was one of Whitehead's central principles. He was one of my early guiding lights in these matters. Here, let me drag out my dog-eared copy of Adventures of Ideas. There he writes that "The creativity of the world is the throbbing emotion of the past hurtling itself into a new transcendent fact." His point is that each moment represents an instance of the cosmos transcending itself like a "flying dart hurled beyond the bounds of the world."

Hmm, let's see what else we have in here. Although I am not a full-blown Whiteheadian, he is nevertheless one of those people whose ideas have long since blended with my own psychic substance, so it's interesting to go back and look at some of my highlights and marginalia from 25 years ago. "This notion of... history devoid of any reliance on metaphysical principles and cosmological generalizations, is a figment of the imagination. The belief in it can only occur to minds steeped in provinciality -- the provinciality of... minds unable to divine their own unspoken limitations." Ho! Whitehead wasn't the most coherent or linear writer, but his books are filled with barbed little zingers like that.

Although Whitehead obviously accepted Darwinism as far as it goes, he wrote that, as applied to the human realm, it posed "a challenge to the whole humanitarian movement" and "weakened the Stoic-Christian ideal of democratic brotherhood." Who could argue with that? "For two thousand years philosophy and religion had held up before Western Europe the ideal figure of man, as man, and had claimed for it supreme worth." But two thousand years of accumulated divine-human wisdom can be wiped away with a single book of anti-intellectual Darwinist barbarism.

Just poking around at random now. Here's another good one: modern scientism canalizes "thought and observation within predetermined limits, based upon inadequate metaphysical assumptions dogmatically assumed. The modern assumptions.... exclude from rationalistic thought more of the final values of existence," circumscribing reason "by reducing its topics to triviality, for example, to bare sensa and tautologies.... The world will again sink into the boredom of a drab detail of rational thought, unless we retain in the sky some reflection of light from the sun of Hellenism." All men will be as repetitive, narrow and tedious as Charles Johnson.

Ah, here is Raccoonish sentiment: "We speak in the singular of The Universe.... There is one all-embracing fact [O] which is the advancing history of the one Universe." This is the "community of the world, which is the matrix of all begetting, and whose essence is process with retention of connectedness..." Indeed,

"We habitually speak of stones, and planets, and animals, as though each individual thing could exist, even for a passing moment, in separation from an environment which is in truth a necessary factor in its own nature. Such an abstraction is a necessity of thought.... But it also follows that, in the absence of some understanding of the final nature of things... all science suffers from the vice that it may be combining various propositions which tacitly presuppose inconsistent backgrounds. No science can be more secure than the unconscious metaphysics which it tacitly presupposes." Ho!

The point is -- now confirmed by quantum physics -- everything participates in everything else in ways that are far beyond the ken of 19th century atomistic science. Furthermore, in a post-relativistic cosmos, both space and time are nonlocal, so things are also temporally connected in ways that materialistic science cannot disclose.

This led Whitehead to the inevitable conclusion that each moment had a subjective and objective component, of which you might say that our minds are the individualized beneficiaries. In other words, the process of our very own mind reveals something intrinsic about the way the cosmos evolves. Scientistic materialists believe the same thing -- that the mind mirrors reality -- except that they only consider things from the linear/left brain point of view, instead of from the synthesis of the "higher third" that comes into view in the integral evolution of what Grotstein called the "transcendent position."

To say that God "participates" in the world, or that the divine is immanent within the creation, is another way of acknowledging this reality. This is the reason why the world is so full of beauty, truth, novelty, delight, surprise, -- and evolution. Evolution can occur because the cosmos is shot through with implicit divine potential to be realized in time: "The creativity is the actualization of potentiality, and the process of actualization is an occasion of experiencing." Thus, you might say that true creativity represents the quintessence of God "experiencing" his creation through us. Which is why it is a sin to bore God in the manner of a Queegian liztard.

The matrix of the world is the mother of our becoming -- the mamamatrix of evolution. But this matrix must be fertilized by the divine seed in order for things to grow and develop. Truly, our vertically challenged materialistic brethren are suffering from a spiritual (second) birth defect.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Why Obama's Opponents are Racists

The left obviously values a certain kind of freedom. It's just not the American kind. When you think about it -- and this was a central point of both Mises and Hayek -- the majority of our "lived freedom" is in the economic arena. Especially prior to the advent of the internet, our political freedom consisted of, what, voting every two years and an occasional letter to the editor?

But economic freedom affects most every decision we make in the world. It is specifically this kind of freedom that the left undermines. However, in so doing, they erode the very foundation of liberty. As Hayek explains, we have "progressively [!] been moving away from the basic ideas on which Western civilization has been built" and slowly abandoning "the freedom in economic affairs without which personal and political freedom has never existed in the past."

And "Although we had been warned by some of the greatest thinkers... that socialism means slavery," we have nevertheless "steadily moved in the direction of socialism." Truly, it is like a kind of ineradicable mind parasite that must be confronted anew by each generation. We give vaccinations to children for other deadly diseases. Why don't we vaccinate them against socialism?

Oh. Right. The left controls education. Don't expect mind parasites to eradicate themselves. It's not in their economic interest, to say the least.

This, I think, is the objection people had to Obama beaming into the classroom and asking children to write a letter about how they plan to help him achieve his goals. Out of the mouth of an American president this would be a platitude, but from an un-American president it becomes sinister.

And please, when I say "un-American" I am being literal, not inflammatory. Dennis Prager says the same thing. He merely means that Obama -- or any leftist -- comes from an intellectual tradition that does not find its roots in America but Europe. It doesn't necessarily mean "anti-American," although I certainly believe it's no coincidence that the further left you go, the more hatred of America -- and of course, Israel -- you see.

When some moonbat says that the world hated America because of President Bush, what they mean is that the international left hated America, which is no doubt true. It's just that there are many more leftists than classical liberals in the world, and obviously not a single other Judeo-Christian country. Ask the Poles how they feel about Obama. He has been going about alienating governments that most share our values, such as Israel and India, while coddling and appeasing those that do not share our values.

Consider again that little graph I came up with the other day, with the vertical y-axis running from worldly to spiritual, the horizontal x-axis from collectivism to individualism. This graph will show you exactly where I differ with the left, but also with Schuon and the traditionalists, who are ultra-conservative in the European (not American) sense. Thus, we are dealing with two varieties of un-Americanism.

For me, the quintessence of Americanism -- the ideal person, as it were -- is located in the upper right quadrant, the "spiritual individual." This was so beautifully laid out by the founders, that there is no reason for me to try to surpass them. Just sample some of their theo-political reflections in Novak's On Two Wings. I remember Dennis Prager saying at the time the book came out, that he had brought it with him to sabbath services, because it's that sacred.

Here, let me see if I can dig out a representative sample without losing my momentum. There are really too many to choose from. Here -- John Adams: "I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in Providence for the illumination of the ignorant, and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth."

Talk about a pure Raccoonish sentiment! Do you think I care what the ignorant slaves and slavers of the international left think about America? Ho! Our values are antithetical. Of course they hate us. We are "un-European." We are liberal. We are not collectivists. We remain the last best hope for mankind moving into the space of the Upper Right.

Alexander Hamilton (and again, bear in mind that this self-evident truth would be "unteachable" and therefore unthinkable in a leftist-controlled school, even though it was said by one of our most important founders): "The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power."

Those are the words of a real UpRight man. Now, you may disagree with Hamilton, and that is your prerogative. Just don't kid yourself into thinking that your values are "American," because they're not. No one had your values at the American founding, except perhaps in France.

James Madison, perhaps the most important "doctor of liberty" at our founding: "The belief in a God All Powerful, wise, and good, is so essential to the moral order of the World and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities impressed with it."

Again, an UpRight man of the first rank. Does this mean that our founders didn't care about the collective, i.e., the left hand side of our political graph? Hardly! This was one of the things that most caught Tocqueville's attention, that is, the spontaneous emergence of civil society, of people taking care of one another. When the state takes over this function, it not only diminishes the domain of the Upper Left, but replaces it with the lower left, the fascist/socialist space of the magical collective, impervious to the light of reason.

I'm currently reading Mises' Human Action, and he says what amounts to the same thing. Amazing that he wrote this in the 1940s, because he does a spot-on analysis on the leftist attack on logic that we see today with multiculturalism, deconstruction, and political correctness. These cognitive pathologies are not just peripheral but central to leftist thought, because they undermine reason itself. That is, if different races, classes, cultures, and ethnicities all have their own distinct modes of thought, then western logic is no better than any other form of logic.

Thus, DownRight, or LowDown man inevitably becomes Lower Left man, i.e., the infra-logical and magical collective. This is again why I would hesitate to assume that the Obamanians are trying to be so illogical in attacking the opposition. Again, the absence of logic is not a bug, it's a feature of leftist thought. They have no idea how to respond to an actual argument.

Indeed, just a couple of days ago there was a lengthy piece in the Washington Post -- can't find the link -- about how the White House was trying to come up with a coherent strategy for dealing with the opposition. Fascinatingly, not a single one involved simply "responding to the arguments." For to respond to the arguments would immediately pull them up into the space of logic and evidence, which is precisely where they don't want to be.

Here is how Mises describes the historical emergence of the leftist attack on logic: "The economists had entirely demolished the fantastic delusions of the socialist utopias [read: the lower left, or infralogical collective].... The communist ideas were done for. The socialists were absolutely unable to raise any objection to the devastating criticism of their schemes and to advance any argument in their favor. It seemed as if socialism was dead forever."

So, what do you do if logic is not on your side? "Only one way could lead the socialists out of this impasse. They could attack logic and reason and substitute mystical intuition for ratiocination." The DownRight men of the neo-Marxist left argued that there is no universally valid form of logic or truth, and that to even think so is "oppressive," especially toward minorities. Rather, your so-called truth is merely a reflection of race, or class, or gender, interests.

And this is why if you oppose Obama you are a racist, but if you oppose Michael Steele or Thomas Sowell or Clarence Thomas you can't be. In the perverse cognitive world of the left, the former is "inevitable," the latter "impossible."


Happy birthday to Mommy!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jimmy Carter: Miserable Failure, Vicious Anti-Semite, or Just Plain Stupid?

Is the Obama administration's refusal to honestly engage the arguments of its critics a conscious strategy or simply an artifact of being among the Anointed? After all, if one is by definition generous, decent, and compassionate, then one's critics must be the opposite. Thus, the demonization of critics as racists, nazis, and thugs may not be a conscious strategy. If it is, it's an appallingly stupid one.

Do they really think it's a good idea to trot out the worst president of the 20th century to viciously slander over half the population? I mean, if it weren't for Carter's little pills, we wouldn't even be having to deal with this Iran problem. I suppose it's possible that his vile message is being orchestrated by the White House, but I like to think that liberals really believe the things they say, and that in their minds, their motives are pure. It's enough just to deal with the substance of their ideas. There's no need to assume bad motives.

For example, I am quite sure that state-mandated racial discrimination is a bad thing, and that it is harmful to its so-called beneficiaries. Thus, one can say that it's a racist policy, but there is no need to impute racist motivations to this or that individual. I know lots of people who are in favor of state-enforced racial discrimination, but they aren't racists as we usually define the term. Condescending toward blacks, yes. Infantilizing, yes. But in their minds, they're trying to do good. They're just misguided, that's all.

This is why Hayek emphasizes over and over that in economics, intentions don't matter, only incentives. Thus, we know that Obama intends to provide universal health care that is cheap, plentiful and of high quality. I don't doubt that. I just know that it's impossible, because he will set up a system of incentives that makes it so. The incentives will immediately swamp the intentions as soon as the system moves from idea to reality, because economics does not lie.

The identical thing happened with the Great Society, which was intended to reduce dependency but only increased it to unprecedented levels. Now if you try to scale it back, you are "cruel" and "heartless."

So the left is full of good people with good intentions, excluding that truly nasty contingent of hardcore leftists which probably constitutes only a quarter to a third of the Democrat party. Unfortunately, those people tend to be the most visible, as they are the activists, intellectuals, and prominent bloggers -- AKA, the ignorantsia.

But for those of you with liberal neighbors and relatives, you know that they are just decent people who have never given much thought to their ideas, especially if they've had the misfortune of attending graduate school. In fact, they are the ones who are most impervious to novel information, due to the element of intellectual pride. Give me ten minutes with my pool man, and I could convert him to conservatism (if he isn't conservative already). But I couldn't change some of my educated relatives in 50 years. No way. They literally don't hear what I'm saying.

Liberals have a hard time understanding that good will ≠ good results. Worse yet, leftist intellectuals can't seem to wrap their minds around one of the founding principles of classical liberalism, that what they think of as "bad intentions" routinely give birth to good results.

But in reality, of course, the bad intentions are not really bad; they only become so in the leftist's mind, because they convert self-interest into selfishness, two very different and often antithetical things. For a self-interested person is rational, predictable, responsible, stable, future-oriented, and deeply interconnected with a small circle that he especially cares about and which cares about him.

In contrast, collectivism erodes self-interest and replaces it with raw selfishness. Once the state is powerful enough to dole out favors to particular groups and interests, everyone is in competition to gain the favors in exchange for propping up the state and giving it even more power. This is why the huge federal bureaucracy initiated by FDR became the metastasizing autopoietic monster it is today. No one can control it because of the system of incentives it has instantiated.

In turn, as Mark Steyn has argued, this is perhaps the greatest existential danger of Omamacare, because government-controlled medicine changes a people forever. Once we cross that rubicon-job, our very lives are intertwined with the State in the most intimate manner.

I don't know if this is a conscious strategy on the part of the left -- I'm sure that for some of them it is -- but socialized medicine may be the death blow to classical liberalism and to any semblance of the founding vision of the United States. From then on, every political battle will be fought on leftist turf.

Can you imagine? Every national election will be about greedy Republicans trying to take away your healthcare. Democrats will simply replicate their longstanding strategy toward Social Security, only on a mass scale. To be conservative will be to touch the Third Rail of "free" healthcare and thereby go up in flames. In this new context, a garden variety conservative will sound as extreme as, say, a Bircher or Paulian today. That's how it is in Western Europe, where their "conservatives" are just leftist-lite.

Hayek makes the important point that when the outcome deviates from the noble intentions of the left -- which it virtually always does -- they never return to first principles and inquire as to whether perhaps there's a bug in the system. Rather, they usually jump to the conclusion "that sinister forces must have foiled our intentions, that we are the victims of some evil power which must be conquered...." Our intentions are good. Our ideas cannot have been wrong.

This is where the inevitable demonization and conspiratorial thinking come in. People don't want nationalized medicine? They must be racists! War going badly? Bush lied us into it! Worst hurricane in history? Bush hates black people! Doubt the significance of manmade climate change? You're a Holocaust denier! Etc.

Leftists "are ready to accept almost any explanation of the present crisis of our civilization except one: that the present state of the world may be the result of genuine error on our part and that the pursuit of some of our most cherished ideals has apparently produced results utterly different from those which we expected" (Hayek).

Could it be that the War on Poverty results in only more poverty? Or that government discrimination does not end discrimination? Or that military weakness is provocative to the enemies of liberty? Or that aid to Africa freezes it in a state of dysfunction? Or that pouring more money into a bad educational system makes it worse? Or that subsidizing college increases the cost of tuition?

This is why I don't agree with, say, Rush Limbaugh, who believes that Obama is following the tried-and-true Marxist strategy of intentionally making things worse in order to justify a more massive power grab. I don't see any real need to go there and to attack motivations, as does the left.

Again, it is enough to address their bad ideas, which Limbaugh already does so well. Then again, since so few people engage the ideas, one can well understand the strategy of personalizing the debate and demonizing the opponent. Who knows. Maybe all is fair in this kind of Cosmic War, since the future of civilization hangs in the balance.


O, just like I pictured it. You gots to have freedom:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This Post is Dedicated to the Socialists of All Parties, Newspapers, and Cable Stations

Jimmy Carter is right. I refuse to accept a black president... who isn't Thomas Sowell. Actually, I refuse to accept a black socialist. Or white socialist. Or Jewish socialist. Or Asian socialist. But I'd vote for Thomas Sowell if he were a transgendered Guatemalan poetess who thought that shaving his legs was a form of oppression.

Speaking of Obama, Road to Serfdom is actually dedicated to him and to his parents, not to mention the group that nurturted his political sensibilities, ACORN. (Have you noticed that the treasonous don't fall far from the ACORN?)

Yes, Hayek dedicated the book -- without irony or malice -- "to the socialists of all parties." He did so because he knew that the vast majority of socialists were not evil, just misguided (despite the respect not being mutual; Hayek was treated with contempt by his Anointed contemporaries).

Again, back then there was an excuse for being a socialist, just as we can excuse someone for having been a slaveholder back when the practice was universal, or racist when no one knew any better. But now there is no excuse. So this post is dedicated with irony and malice to the socialists of all parties, newspapers, and cable stations.

As I mentioned yesterday, the kooks of the mainstream left will not engage our arguments. Instead, their first and last resort is name-calling of the most vile sort. Again, the proof that they do not take racism seriously is that they throw out the charge so lightly and irresponsibly. If I am a racist, then there's nothing wrong with being one.

But things were no different in the 1940s, since one of the appeals of leftism is that it renders one virtuous in one's own eyes, so that people who don't share your ideals are worthy of the most intolerant scorn and ridicule. As Hayek writes in the preface, the very people who could most benefit from the book "rejected it out of hand as a malicious and disingenuous attack on their finest ideals. They appear never to have paused to examine its argument."

This column from the blessedly soon-to be-extinct LA Times is typical: "the right-wing anti-Obama movement in the U.S. these days is overpopulated with nuts, fundamentalists and paranoids who won't be easily stopped by a few congressional reprimands." You don't say! (Interestingly, just as the previous dinosaurs, the MSM is becoming extinct due to a comet -- the blazing comet of the internet and of citizen journalism.)

In fact, this idiotorial claims that you and I don't even actually believe what we believe. You know, the old Marxist idea of "false consciousness." Rather, we're just being manipulated by a conspiratorial political action committee called Our Country Deserves Better. Never heard of them? They're the ones who have convinced us of the "fundamentalist" and "unintelligible" idea that the Constitution actually means what it says. How primitive! Everyone knows that the Constitution means what the left wishes it to mean.

Have you ever wondered why two economists can believe things that are diametrically opposed to one another? This leads to a kind of cynicism and confusion that paves the way for the left. In other words, if both Thomas Sowell and Paul Krugman are "economists," then the word "economist" has no real meaning, so a politician can go ahead and do what he wants, knowing that some gliberal quackademic has his back. It is analogous to calling both an astronomer and astrologer "scientists."

Then again, Van Morrison and Kanye West are both "musicians." That being the case, one is unable to evaluate music in the absence of values. The same holds true of economics. The reason why a Hayek and Krugman or Robert Reich differ so sharply is because they start with an entirely different set of values, which are "non-negotiable." For a variety of reasons we will get into, Hayek starts with the individual in general and with liberty in particular (which one might say is the field of the individual's freely chosen action), while the socialist -- by whatever name -- begins with the collective.

Many people wonder why conservatism embodies the sometimes uneasy coalition of libertarians and serious religious seekers, and this is why, for both, in their own way, regard the individual as sacred, inviolable, and absolute (i.e., the image of the Absolute). "We are endowed by our Creator," etc.

In contrast, the fascist/socialist always begins with the we. For example, in Nazi Germany, the state was simply the reflection of the fundamental reality of the nation, or "volk." The individual is meaningless in the absence of his devotion and subordination to this higher body. For this reason, the Nazis embarked on an all-out assault on the liberal values of the Anglo-Saxon world (including the Christian metaphysics underlying them).

The same principle applies to our contemporary socialists, including Obama. "Yes we can." Higher taxes are our patriotic duty. I want to take your income and "spread it around." I don't want to hear any talking from you. I want you to get out of the way, you bunch of selfish racists. If you challenge these assumptions, you trigger the same kind of visceral reaction you would if you had attacked a religious icon, the reason being that socialism is a religion. Take away its ideals, and these people have nothing to believe in.

So although Road to Serfdom is an economics book, there's not a single equation in it (except for the equation of socialism and serfdom). Rather, it begins and ends in ultimate values -- although he then proceeds to demonstrate how the nurturing of these values leads to human progress, development, and increased wealth. For the secret power of the free market is that it unleashes the almost infinite potential of the creative and motivated individual -- a potential that was quashed for most of human history, and is vitiated under any socialist system.

Again, rather than engage these ideas, the left always attacks motivations -- for example, that classical liberalism is simply a self-serving doctrine of The Rich. But I am not rich, nor was Hayek, nor are most of the tea partiers. (And I assume you're not, but if you are, how would you like to send a generous Love Offering my way?) The left has it precisely backward. If I were self-serving, I would be a leftist in order to get more free stuff from the government, and maybe even a lifetime commitment to a major looniversity bin. I would work toward that glorious day when 51% of the population pays no taxes and lives off the 49% who do -- the revolt of the takers over the makers.

As Hayek explains, "I am as certain as anyone can be that the beliefs set out in [the book] are not determined by my personal interests. I can discover no reason why the kind of society which seems to me desirable should offer greater advantages to me than to the great majority of the people in my country."

Same with me. I am sure that Omamacare will include mandated mental health coverage. Therefore, it is like free money for me. My pool of potential victims will increase exponentially. But I am adamantly opposed to the idea that the government should pay for people to talk about their problems to some unhinged psychologist.

Hayek goes on to say that "I have every reason for not writing or publishing this book. It is certain to offend many people with whom I wish to live on friendly terms." Again, I couldn't agree more. I too have in-laws, co-workers, and neighbors.

Believe it or not, I have no desire to be hated by people, which is precisely why I try to limit my exposure. I really don't want to put a big target on myself. Those folks are spooky, in case you haven't noticed. And since the main purpose of this blog is spiritual, I can't be at my best in that arena if I am having to deal with the psychotic crosscurrents of the left. I prefer to leave that to others who thrive on that sort of thing.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

About Those Right Wing Fascists

In order delegitimize the tea party movement, the MSM -- abetted by kooks such as Charles Johnson -- is highlighting the people who brought signs linking Obama to fascism. Again, is this my style? No. But is it my substance? Let's find out.

Of course, if one is remotely balanced -- let alone charitable -- one will acknowledge that both sides have their crazies, and leave it at that. For every moonbat there's an equal and opposite wingnut, and all that. In fact, for every gay-hating Fred Phelps there must be a dozen God-hating Charles Johnsons. But the science of natural selection is not discredited just because people such as Queeg turn it into a religion, nor should marriage be redefined just because Phelps thinks it shouldn't be.

Let's face it: there are only two main parties, but millions of emotionally disturbed people. What are they supposed to do, form their own party? Some of them do, but you have to be both crazy and stupid to think that the Green Party or Reform Party will ever go anywhere.

There are not too many things that really bother me about politics, politics being what it is. But one thing that does is when people condemn one side for doing exactly what the other side does. This is why you will never see me get excited by a commonplace political scandal. Of course politicians are corrupt. That's why I am a conservative. I want fewer of them, with less power over me.

One way to avoid dealing with the substance of an argument is to simply caricature your opposition by focusing on its extreme elements. This is intellectually dishonest. As far as I am concerned, it is not necessary to highlight the true crazies of the left -- Moveon.org, Code Pink, environmental terrorists, PETA, etc. -- because the mainstream is already so nuts. It's a full time job just dealing with the New York Times, CNN, Keith Olbermann, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Van Jones, ACORN, etc.

I've read any number of mainstream analyses of the tea party movement, and not one of them dispassionately discusses the substance of the arguments, i.e., out of control government spending, socialized medicine, legislation to forbid the climate from changing, etc.

Now, back to those "crazies" who think that Obama is a fascist. First of all, you have to understand that genocide is not intrinsic to fascism. In a way, Hitler spoiled a perfectly useful word by forever associating it with the Holocaust. So now we have no name for a certain enduring political phenomenon, just because the name for it has been tainted.

To be honest, this post is just an excuse for me to review and assimilate Hayek's Road to Serfdom, which I finished yesterday. Although originally published in 1944, it is as timely as ever, given the events of the day.

I had already read some of Hayek's other books, not to mention a couple of recent biographies, but this is considered his most accessible work. There was nothing in it that was new for me, but it certainly reinforces the fact that there isn't anything the least bit controversial about linking Obama and fascism. Indeed, Obama is simply acting from a script that was written (and discredited) long ago. It's timeless, really.

Again, at the time it was published, Hayek was trying to make the then-controversial point that communism and fascism were not opposites, but two consequences of the same underlying assumptions. These assumptions are profoundly illiberal, which is why, if you want to reduce it to a linear map, both socialism and fascism are on the left, while classical liberalism is on the right. But this is not really a useful distinction. I much prefer the four-quadrant graph I discussed yesterday, which distinguishes collectivism from individualism and the worldly from the spiritual.

A classical liberal of the American type believes first and foremost in liberty. But not the unconstrained horizontal liberty of the radical secularist. Rather, it can only be understood in a spiritual context, which is why the Founders wanted a secular state but a religious society infused with Judeo-Christian principles and values. None of them imagined that democracy would work in the absence of a virtuous population (although I am quite sure that our trolls can find the stray comment by a Jefferson or Paine justiying their own hatred of God).

It is important to point out that while critics of the tea party movement will cherry-pick some of the signs to focus on, they object just as much to the intellectual substance. The signs just give them a convenient way to avoid debate.

Thus, when The Road to Serfdom was published in the 1940s, it was greeted by the liberal ignorantsia exactly as if Hayek were holding up a sign of Roosevelt with a Hitler moustache. He was dismissed not just as wrong, but sinister (again, without ever engaging the substance of his ideas). This is because virtually all intellectuals at the time were unquestioned socialists. Of course, they accused Hayek of being "reactionary," which was transparent projection, just as today.

As I've said before many times, I don't necessarily blame someone for being a socialist in the 1930s or 1940s, before economics was the science it is today. Socialism has an intrinsic appeal, especially to intellectuals who believe that irreducibly complex problems are susceptible to easy solutions if we just apply enough brain power. This is one of the reasons the left is so enamored of Obama. For whatever reason, they all think he's "brilliant," so that he can "solve our problems." The same things were said of Clinton. But as Milton Friedman famously remarked, no one has all the knowledge necessary to produce even a single pencil, let alone "control healthcare."

Nevertheless, one of the reasons Hayek doesn't appeal to the left wing ignorantsia is that he renders them not just superfluous, but demonstrates how dangerous they are -- not necessarily because of any bad intentions on their part. To the contrary. It is nearly always with the best of intentions. It is just that they are attempting to control reality before having understood it. The grandiose visions of the left are just fairy tales by another name.

But what is worse, they cannot understand the realities they presume to control, not in fact, nor in principle. Can't be done. A free market economy, for example, consists of millions of people making billions of spontaneous decision based upon a practically infinite amount of knowledge, information, and wisdom dispersed throughout the system. Furthermore, it is non-linear, so that if you tinker with one variable, it will have unforeseen -- and unforeseeable -- consequences that will reverberate throughout the system.

Let's take the simple example of Roe v. Wade. Any intellectually honest person knows that this decision was unconstitutional. Be that as it may, one of the ideas was to prevent all of those deaths resulting from back alley abortions -- all six of them, or however many it was (don't believe anyone who gives you a statistic, because they're making it up).

But what were the actual consequences of Roe v. Wade? Being that there have been -- what 50 million? -- abortions since 1973, and thousands a day, I am quite sure that more women have died as a result of legal abortions than the illegal ones. This is because Roe v. Wade incentivized abortion, and with it, promiscuity and general sexual irresponsibility.

In a way, it's similar to the HIV virus, which incentivised homosexuals to refrain from certain activities, such as having thousands of anonymous partners in a bathhouse. But if a cure is ever found, then you can be quite sure that the same culture will flourish. Incentives matter. Intentions don't.

But the left is always blind to the consequences of their policies. And because they are rooted in emotion, not thought, they will simply vilify you if you disagree with them, as they did with Hayek.

The other day, Tom Friedman removed the mask and argued that China was a good country for the United States to emulate, because only with an authoritarian state would it be possible to impose Friedman World on the rest of us. In this regard, Hayek wrote that, once one concludes that central planning is necessary, this leads to "the demand that the government, or some single individual, should be given power to act on their own.... It becomes more and more the accepted belief that... the responsible director of affairs must be freed from the fetters of democratic procedure" (emphasis mine).

Not only has every liberal commentator (including the President) taken Sarah Palin's "death panels" comment out of context, but they refuse even to acknowledge that the responsible director of medical affairs must be freed from the fetters of democratic procedure in deciding how medical resources will be allocated. How is this belief controversial?

In his introduction to the book, Caldwell notes that Hayek's ideas are not just a kind of "lightning rod," but a Rorschach test that reveals "as much about the reader's prior commitments as it does about Hayek's ideas." Both the ideas and the reaction to them are timeless, man being what he is. After all, slavery and serfdom are the rule in human history, not the exception. Therefore, it is not as if these were simply accidental developments in human history. To the contrary, the culture of liberty is clearly the exception.

But the leftist believes to his core that liberty is possible in a culture of servitude. Apparently, he never pauses to think that for a third or half the year he is in bondage to the state. In my case, there is federal tax, state tax, property tax, payroll tax, sales tax, gas tax, beer tax, and more, not to mention various licenses and fees. And the government is still bankrupt!

Does the leftist really not put two and two together and understand that for the government, it always equals five? Does he really believe that there is no justification for anger at the size and scope of government? Does he really believe that it is somehow "liberal" to want to work even more for an even larger state? Does he really not acknowledge his bottomless greed and sense of entitlement for the fruits of our labors?

To be continued....

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mapping the 4-Dimensional Soul Space of Politics

Not sure if this will go anywhere, but yesterday while reading Hayek's Road to Serfdom I had a little brainwave, or an idea for an idea.

Actually, it began with a crack by Schuon, to the effect that there are really only two kinds of people. Here. Let me find it. It's from a chapter called The Problem of Qualifications, and it goes a little like this:

"If one insists on making a fundamental distinction between men, it should be between the worldly and the spiritual."

To place the statement in context, Schuon was speaking of the charge that esoterism or gnosis is only intended for a kind of intellectual elite, when intelligence as such is not the most important qualification.

Given the staggering amount of intelligent stupidity on our college campi and among the tenured, this should be obvious. As often as not, a certain kind of intelligence forms a barrier to higher worlds. It is a wall, not a window, much less a bridge or door. Not all of our trolls are stupid. I would say that perhaps half are "stuck on smart." In other words, they are condemned to the closed world of vulgar rationalism.

In order for the intelligence to become operative on the spiritual plane, several other factors are necessary. Grace is one, and although we obviously cannot create grace, we most certainly can get out of its way. For some this comes naturally -- it is a reflection of their temperament -- while for others, they must work harder at it.

Thus, we are ultimately talking about a moral qualification, "which involves the fundamental virtues," especially humility and charity. Why humility? Because the assimilation of a spiritual truth is a little death to the ego. The ego lives primarily in, and is nurtured by, the world of appearances. In order to pass from appearance to reality, the ego must be left behind.

And why charity? Because up here, truth and love converge, so there is no impulse to cling to knowledge as if it is one's personal possession. Therefore, to be precise, one could think of charity as an effect, not a cause. It's like tapping into a geyser, and then the geyser gives the water away freely. This is what our trolls never understand: I already realize what I say is worthless to you. That's why I'm giving it away.

We're getting a little far afield here. I just wanted to establish this notion that there are two general types of men, the worldly and the spiritual. However, this is not strictly an either-or proposition; rather, this duality exists on a vertical continuum. Let's call this the y-axis.

With this in mind, we need to immediately amend our definition, since there exist "infrahuman" states that are spiritual in the negative sense. As such, the saint would be situated at the top of the y-axis, whereas the common man would be at the zero point. The real evildoers are situated in the minus space below the horizontal axis. More on which later.

Spiritual Man Infrahuman Man

Now, later in the day I was reading The Road to Serfdom, which is all about... well, about the left-wing collectivist road to serfdom. I don't think there's any need to rehearse all of his arguments here, because if you don't already understand them, you probably never will.

At the time Road to Serdom was published, it was still thought that fascism and socialism were somehow opposites rather than two forms of the same underlying assumptions. To place these on the horizontal continuum is pure nonsense -- as if fascism is somehow an extension of the classical liberalism of the free market!

No. The only logical way to understand the horizontal continuum -- and to chart "progress" -- is to place "collectivism" and "individualism" on the x-axis; conveniently, collectivism (and serfdom) is to the left, while individualism (and liberty) is to the right.

And supplemented with our y-axis, we are now in a much better position to understand "political space," which will have at least four main areas, but actually more like six if we take into consideration the nether regions below the x-axis.

Let's begin with the lower left hand side of the graph. This would be both collective and "infraspiritual." This type of collectivism is fueled by unconscious magical tendencies. It is the area of fascism, for above all else, fascism is a political religion.

There is also a healthy kind of socialism in the upper left quadrant. This would be, for example, the corporatism of the Catholic Church. Critically, this type of socialism is freely given, not coerced and backed by the violence of the state. In the lower left quadrant of bad socialism, the person is merely a means to the ends of elites, whereas in the upper left quadrant, the person is an end in himself. No one is forced to do anything.

As Hayek points out, bad socialism is morally self-refuting, because it inevitably arrives at intolerable outcomes that deviate from the original aims. For example, no matter what Obama says, socialized medicine will lead to rationing, to illegals being covered, to lower quality healthcare, to less innovation, etc. One way to test the intellectual honesty of a leftist is to ask what the tradeoff will be in Obamacare. If he says "nothing," then you know he's either a fool or a liar.

Looked at in a certain way, both the x-axis and y-axis are "evolutionary," for, taken together, they chart man's soul development. For example, primitive religion is largely collectivist -- which is appropriate, since man started out as a collective being, and only discovered his individuality quite recently, especially on a mass scale. The upper right quadrant is the area of saints, mystics, seers, and visionaries. In the final analysis, a religion is operative if it is producing these kinds of people.

But what about the lower right quadrant? This would be the unhealthy combination of individualism and worldliness. When people talk about the vacuity of consumer culture, this would be the area to which they are referring. It is a kind of egoic "individualism for individualism's sake," bearing upon no higher meaning. I also think of a Bill Maher or Charles Queeg, who deploy worldly reason toward plainly irrational ends.

Again, as we descend down the y-axis, individualism partakes of unconscious and infrahuman forces, and we end up with the cult of personality and the gallery of "unique monsters" -- the triumph of the personal will as embodied in beasts such as Castro, Mao, Stalin, etc.

This is why I am not offended by the signs depicting Obama as a fascist. That would not be my style, nor do I believe that it is strategically prudent. Nevertheless, such a person probably has an accurate intuition about Obama that he cannot symbolize in any other way. He knows that Obama is a creature of the lower right quadrant, and that he wishes to plunge America into the lower left. How low depends upon a number of other variables.

Let's just say that with Democrat majorities in both the house and senate, they can go as low as they wish, and conservatives alone cannot stop them. Let me be clear: both fascism and socialism result in a tyranny of elites of the lower right over the masses of the lower left. Call them Death Panels if you like. (Or, in Lenin's two word formulation, "Who and Whom.")

Socialism is always authoritarian, and therefore fascist. And fascists always place themselves above -- actually, below -- The Law that enshrines our liberty.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Talkin' Charles Johnson Paranoid Blues

Charles the Queeg has now banished PowerLine due to their well-known fascist associations. This follows the de-linking of other smear merchants and fascist sympathizers such as Ace of Spades, Iowahawk, Gateway Pundit, Jammie Wearing Fool, American Thinker... Who's left to sap and impurify Queeg's precious bodily fluids?

It all reminds me of Bob Dylan's Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues:

Well, I was feelin' sad and feelin' blue,
I didn't know what in the world I was gonna do,
Them creationists they wus comin' around,
They wus in the air,
They wus on the ground.
They wouldn't gimme no peace...

So I waited most patiently
'Til I could register with the Lizard Society,
Got me a password and on I logged,
And started off a-postin' on Charles' blog.
Yee-hoo, I'm an LGFer now!
Look out you creationists!

Now we all agree with Kos's views,
Even though he does hate all them Jews.
Sure, he thinks AmeriKKKa's imperialistic,
But at least he ain't creationistic.

Well, I wus lookin' everywhere for them theo-crats.
Inside my gee-tar 'n' under my hat,
Looked in the sink, behind my bike,
Looked everywhere for the dang Fourth Reich.
Couldn't find it...

I wus lookin' high an' low for them ID'ers but to no avail,
I even looked inside my ponytail.
I hunted down every creationist troll,
Finally found one inside my toilet bowl.
He got away...

Well, I wus sittin' home alone an' started to sweat,
Figured they wus all over the internet.
Peeked behind my big mainframe,
Got a shock from my feet right up to the brain.
Them creationists caused it!
I know they did.... them hard-core, Discovery Institute ones!

Well, I quit my job so's I could stay indoors,
And spend all day a-postin' in my drawers.
Followed some clues from an Air America station
And discovered there wus God in the Declaration!
Dang that ol' Jefferson...

Well, I investigated all the blogs in my sidebar,
But ninety-nine percent was to the right of Bill Maher!
I banished all them bloggers that I used to link,
'Cause they was about as kosher as Colonel Klink!

Now Gagdad, he's a fascist tool,
Iowahawk, Ace, and them PowerLine fools.
To my knowledge there's just one man
Who's a real and true American: Charles Darwin!
Maybe Keith Olbermann too...

Well, I fin'ly started thinkin' straight
When I run outa bloggers to investigate.
Couldn't imagine doin' nothin' else,
So now I'm sittin' home investigatin' myself!
Found out Charles Johnson's been makin' me look like a kook....